Topics: News, Press

Assembly Judiciary Committee Passes Bill Protecting Workers from Workplace Violence

Sacramento, CA – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council applauded the Assembly Judiciary Committee for passing SB 553 (Cortese), which will require employers to implement basic protections to protect workers from violence while they’re on the job.

“One day I saw a man stealing cheese and other items,” said Samantha Webster, a grocery worker at Safeway in Hercules. “I went up to him per Albertsons’ shoplifter policy and asked if he needed help. The customer then pulled up his shirt to show a gun and told me to back off. I was so scared that I wouldn’t make it home to my little boy. Workers like myself didn’t sign up to get threatened to be shot, and we should not have to wake up each morning afraid that we will be assaulted or killed while at work. We have families, we are someone’s daughter, someone’s son, someone’s mother or someone’s father and we deserve to be valued as much as everyone else.”

Over the last several years, reports of workplace violence from members have skyrocketed – now most of our members have been the victim of at least one incident of threatened or actual workplace violence and many intolerably experience workplace violence on a regular basis. Members have been robbed at gunpoint; they’ve been attacked physically, some to the point of needing to be hospitalized; they’ve been spat upon by people infected with COVID-19; they are routinely threatened with violence; and at some stores, members have even been murdered while performing their jobs.

Workplace violence incidents are becoming more prevalent across all different types of workplaces in California – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified workplace violence as the third leading cause of fatal occupational injury at the workplace and estimates that nearly two million workers are affected by workplace violence each year. Last year, the F.B.I. said more than half of active shooter attacks occurred in places of commerce, including stores. However, the California Division Of Occupational Safety & Health (Cal/OSHA) has yet to adopt a General Industry Workplace Violence Standard to protect workers on the job. Cal/OSHA adopted a Healthcare Workplace Violence Standard in 2017, but this standard only offers protections for healthcare workers, excluding most of California’s workforce. Six years is too long to wait for workers who experience workplace deaths, injuries, and incidents daily. 

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July 5, 2023

Contact: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, [email protected]